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Japanese sake goes global, intoxicating many

From sommeliers to master brewers, the drink is winning devotees abroad

Foreign tourists check out bottles of Japanese sake at a department store in Ginza, Tokyo. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi) 

TOKYO -- Sake, also called nihonshu, is rapidly going global, much as sushi has, with the value of Japan's annual exports doubling in the past five years to a record-high 22.2 billion yen ($200 million) in 2018.

The number of sake drinkers is rising sharply around the world, partly on the strength of recommendations by sommeliers at high-end restaurants overseas. After getting a taste of sake in their own countries, many people come to Japan for a deeper dive.

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